A friend of mine recently confided in me that she had a terrible fight with her boyfriend of about two years. They had both been drinking pretty heavily and it was a screaming match. At one point the words “I hate you” were said, along with “I don’t want to be with you anymore” and “f*** you,” from both sides. The day after, my friend was beside herself – she didn’t understand how the fight had gotten so out of hand or why they had said those things.
I hate confrontation. Hate it. Some people, a.k.a. my boyfriend, would say I am a pushover. I like to say I am a peacekeeper. But even the most peaceful person gets angry, and anyone is capable of getting into a screaming match, most especially with their significant other. I don’t like arguing but that doesn’t mean I never do it. Quite the contrary. I just pick and choose what I want to be angry about – and yes, you do have a choice to be angry or not.
There is such a thing as “productive” fighting (no, really there is!), but I don’t think it involves insulting your partner or calling them names. Of course, when you check your partner’s phone and see questionable text messages from random people of the opposite sex, the first thing you think probably isn’t, “How can I turn this into a productive fight?” Instead, you want to hurl their phone across the room – preferably directly at the offending party – and then scream until your throat bleeds.
I googled “productive fighting” and came across a professional counseling website that seemed to have some good advice, the first piece being “Know that fighting is OK.”
Yeah OK, so this was basically the first thing I said to my friend, who doesn’t have much experience with relationships. You’ve probably heard one of your parents say it at some point in your life – everybody fights. Literally everyone. You aren’t special just because you want to kill your significant other for something dumb every other week. Everybody wants to kill everyone at some point in life.
So once you know that fighting is normal and healthy, you can move on to number two, which is to try not to bring up a touchy subject at an inappropriate time. You’ve done this before too I’m sure. The phrase “this is neither the time nor place” comes to my mind. My mom and dad have said it to me, oh, I don’t know, a MILLION times, most of those times when I was a surly teenager coming off my parents’ divorce. If you get pissed about something while you are out with friends or at a party or somewhere public, keep the lid on it until you get into the car, or best case scenario, until you are home. Have you ever been at a dinner with friends who get into a fight at the table? Awk-ward. This would also apply when you are under the influence of alcohol, which my friend and her boyfriend were. Alcohol always magnifies everything 1,000 percent. Have you ever gotten tipsy and done or said something you wished you hadn’t? Join the club. There are infiniti members.
The third and fourth tips go hand-in-hand: take time to cool down, and find a resolution. In a perfect world, this would be ideal. You both walk off the anger, come back together and find a reasonable solution that makes both parties happy. However, that requires forgiveness, apologies and compromise all around, and sometimes that is difficult. Difficult? It was nearly impossible for my parents. However, it CAN be achieved if the both of you are willing to try. Sometimes things can’t be resolved, and then you have to make the choice to either forget the offense or move on with your life.
Emily Campbell is a perpetually single, 20-something girl-around-town who loves Shakespeare, old movies, Natty Boh, and of course, long walks on the beach. A sales manager by day and freelance writer by night, she was recently forced into a life of involuntary celibacy when her last relationship fizzled out over a text message. She’s tired of settling for second – or tenth – best, and she’s ready to find Mr. Right. Or, Mr. Nearly Right. No one’s perfect…which she has learned the hard (but hilarious) way.